Are You Looking At Me?

Reunited a long way from China

Sonia Billadeau January 30, 2014
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Recently, my husband Ed, our daughter Sarah, and I had supper together at Betty’s Restaurant in Blue Springs, Mo. Our dear friends, Dale and Janice, and their 20-month-old Chinese daughter, Christy Joy, met us there. Christy Joy has been in the United States for one month now, while Sarah has been home from China eight months. Sarah was almost six years old when we adopted her in December 1999. We were quite a spectacle, as the six of us squeezed into a tiny booth: Ed and I on one side; Dale and Janice on the other; and Christy Joy and Sarah at the end of the booth in a high chair and chair pulled along side.

The sight of American moms and dads (many with gray hair) dining with their Chinese children was common at our elegant hotels during our two-week adoption adventure in China. During our first breakfast together as a “forever family,” Sarah gazed around the dining room of the Grand Sun City Hotel in Changsha City, China, with wide-eyed wonder. The abundance of food choices at the elaborate buffet was quite different from what she was accustomed to at the orphanage.

Food was not the only fascination for Sarah. She stared at Ed and me with our graying hair and light eyes. Our appearance and our language were foreign to her. Who were these strangers who had taken her away from everyone and everything she had ever known? Her eyes made their way across the large dining room full of families that looked just like ours! Through the miracle of adoption, women and men had become “Forever Moms and Dads” to children of a different race, and Sarah watched intently as the American parents shared their first meals together with their Chinese children. In this hotel in southern China, families were born.

Here in the U. S., we have become accustomed to strange looks in our direction. Maybe it is because we are usually the loudest group. Many people stare at our beautiful Chinese daughters. Others stare at us. Some are bold enough to ask if these are our grandchildren. Most are shocked to discover that we (all over 50 years of age) are the parents of these beauties (and yes, we have grandchildren the age of our daughters).

We were in for a special treat at Betty’s. Not because the food was plentiful and mouth-watering, but because we met another adoptive family with two Asian children of their own: a daughter from China and a son from Korea. This family just moved to the Kansas City area from Washington state. We excitedly exchanged information about our adoption adventures. They traveled to China at the end of October 1994 to adopt their daughter. This mother talked about visiting their daughter’s orphanage and rocking and holding several other babies left behind.

“What orphanage in China?” I inquired.

“Social Welfare No. 1 in Changsha, Hunan Province,” the mother answered.

“That’s where our Sarah is from!,” I exclaimed. “She was discovered on the street corner in Changsha City on October 9, 1994, and taken to that very orphanage! Our daughters came from the same city and the same orphanage! They are about the same age, so they must have been together for at least four weeks in October 1994.”

That was truly remarkable, because there are over 2,000 orphanages in China, and two orphanages in Changsha City! Sarah may well have been one of the “other babies” left behind that this mother lovingly held and rocked at the orphanage in 1994.

“It’s as if these girls were destined to meet each other!” exclaimed one of the waitresses.

By that time, everyone was really looking at us! Janice and I looked at each other with tears in our eyes.

“Don’t cry, Mommy,” said Sarah as she climbed into my lap.

For that moment it didn’t matter that my eyes were green and hers were black. It didn’t matter that my hair and skin were lighter than hers. It didn’t matter that I was old enough to be her grandmother. I am her mother. She is my daughter. God brought us together as miraculously as if she had grown in my womb. She grew in my heart.

 

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Sonia Billadeau


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